Gov’t mulls stricter quarantine in Metro Manila to contain virus
MANILA, Philippines — A stricter community quarantine could be enforced in Metro Manila as Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and other national security officials are inclined to push for changes to the provisional entry or exit of workers to the National Capital Region (NCR) with the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases.
Año told reporters on Sunday that in the light of the continuing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, adjustments might be made in the terms of the community quarantine.
“Tomorrow (Monday), there will be an inter-agency task force [on COVID-19] meeting with the President so I’m very sure there would be adjustments, especially the provisional permit to allow workers to Metro Manila,” Año said.
“For me, we need to be strict on the implementation of the community quarantine. If not, the number of [COVID-19] cases will continue to rise. So the purpose [of the community quarantine] is defeated,” he said.
“The stand of the security sector, in which I play a major role, is we want to restrict the movement of people so the virus would no longer spread,” he added.
He tasked the Philippine National Police to strictly enforce the checkpoints to prevent the entry and exit of persons showing symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have no valid reason to be in Metro Manila.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government chief observed on Sunday that the PNP was doing its job in setting up control points around Metro Manila despite lack of protective gear and manpower. He added that there might be some road closures
“I want the people to cooperate. Stay at home. If you have nothing you need to do outside, stay at home,” he said.
“There are still persons who do not understand that if we do not get strict, we might be like Italy in two or three months’ time,” he pointed out, noting that Italy is on lockdown with nobody allowed to leave home.
Meanwhile, PNP acting spokesperson Maj. Gen. Benigno Durana Jr. said on Sunday over dzBB that some 200 checkpoints were set up around Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, the Bicol region, and Central Luzon for the community quarantine.
In Metro Manila, 47 checkpoints were established as of Sunday morning although NCR has 65 entry and exit points.
According to Durana, the PNP aviation security group had been tasked to conduct border patrol in the four airport terminals while the PNP maritime group, along with the Philippine Coastguard, was given a similar task in the six seaports of Metro Manila.
He said that some kinks, such as the lack of protective gear and thermal scanners on some police checkpoints as well as a special lane for cargo trucks, would be ironed out by Monday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines joint task force NCR chief Brig. Gen. Alex Luna said personnel manning the checkpoints would no longer carry firearms. “We may only provide them with pepper sprays or batons. No lethal weapons,” he said.
Año assured that policemen manning the checkpoints “will follow all laws and regulations in enforcing the community quarantine” but called on the public to report police abuses, if there were any, to the DILG through hotlines 8888 and 911.
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